North Carolina, like other Southern states, relied on slavery to build its economy during the 18th and 19th centuries. Slaves across the state raised crops, did domestic chores, constructed new buildings, sailed ships, and performed countless other jobs, all for no pay. The slave trade separated many families, and punishment and violence were all too common. Despite the extreme hardship of slavery, enslaved blacks in North Carolina created a strong culture that combined their experiences as slaves with elements of African and West

Read the stories of slaves who lived in North Carolina to better understand what their lives were like. The excerpts here are taken from the North American Slave Narratives collection from Documenting the American South, which holds over 200 autobiographies by slaves or ex-slaves.

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